Four Natural Ways to Holiday Health

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Madison, Wisconsin - Sugary treats are everywhere you turn. Families and friends gather and expose each other to what’s going around. Despite these holiday inevitabilities, UW Health Integrative Health specialists say there are four ways to put health on your side this holiday season.

  1. Take water-soluble fiber: Those sugar-sweetened holiday treats make you gain weight and increase blood sugar levels. Fiber, like psyllium, ground flax seed, chia seeds and bran, when absorbed by water slows down the absorption of sugar and should be taken about 30 minutes before a meal.

  2. Eat the rainbow and exercise: Eat a multi-color, whole-food, high-fiber diet combined with activity. Buy fresh food from local farmers who don’t use pesticides and other chemicals. If you find yourself eating lots of sugary treats, some activity or exercise can really make a difference. Exercise drives sugar into muscle and keeps triglycerides, which store unused calories in fat cells, in check. High levels of triglycerides can lead to heart disease and diabetes.

  3. R-E-L-A-X and keep a lid on stress: The annual fight with your sister can make your body vulnerable. The stress of a fight or other tension drives cortisol levels higher. Cortisol, called “the stress hormone,” regulates blood pressure and insulin release. When there is family tension and people eat and drink too much, it sets up a "cascade of badness.”

  4. Prepare the sleep environment: Sleep is one of the foundations of health. The hormone melatonin regulates sleep and wake cycles. Exercise, exposure to sunlight and sleeping in a cool environment stimulate melatonin production. On the other hand, sleeping with lights on, or even a bright night light could interfere with sleep. Electrical and electronic devices (including those that emit blue light like tablets or cellphones) can also disrupt sleep cycles.

These natural ways to stay healthy during the holiday can help you avoid illnesses and weight gain.

Date Published: 11/26/2014

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